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Thread: The case on cases - Kamoa, Ameritage, Kamaka

  1. #1
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    Default The case on cases - Kamoa, Ameritage, Kamaka

    Back in January I heard about a new fiberglass ukulele case that was coming onto the market. After doing a little research, I discovered Kamoa fiberglass cases. http://kamoaukulelecompany.com/line/cases/ They looked like a lightweight, attractive option for those who do a lot of traveling with their ukes, so back in March I made the decision to purchase one. Initially I intended to get a red one, but when I went to place my order, Sam (the owner) told me that I could opt for a custom color.

    Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the color teal, so the opportunity to get a case in that color seemed like a dream come true. So I went ahead and placed my order. After months of worrying over whether I made the right color choice, and tons of emails that I sent pestering Sam about the status of my order, I finally received the magic email from him, my case had arrived.

    Fortunately, I planned on being in Kauai the next week anyway so I made the decision to pick up my new case in person - with the caveat that if I didn't like the color in person, I could opt for a red one. I finally got there and saw it in person, and I really liked it a lot. I wish I could capture the color in a photo better than I did (and I spent a ton of time trying with three different cameras and still couldn't adequately show it accurately).



    It is, as best I can describe it, a bright teal under direct sunlight or in bright lighting. Which I absolutely love! In other light, it can appear periwinkle or powder blue -- less attractive to me but still not bad. I guess I would say when the lighting is right, I love the color. When it is not (as in my photos), I might prefer the red. Was it worth the wait for the custom color? I can't say for sure, I think in the end it was, as I do really like it in the right lighting. But would I do it again? Probably not. I'm planning on ordering a red one for my Kanile'a rather than trying another custom option.



    For starters, this is an extremely lightweight case. I weighed it with the ukulele inside and it barely registered at four pounds. It has four latches, which make it quite secure. I should note, you have to take care to latch it properly. You need to push on the top of the latch before adhering the bottom portion or else it won't latch securely. I made that mistake the first time I put my uke in it, and noticed the bottom latch wasn't closed properly and was hanging open. Now that I know it takes no time at all to close it, but I do take care to ensure it is done properly.

    In addition to the black latches and trim, there is a black lightly padded handle. It is made out of leather (or pleather) and is very comfortable to hold onto -- by far the most comfortable of the three tested in this review.



    In addition to the hand carry option, you can choose to wear it on your back -- backpack style, or slung over one shoulder. This is another advantage over the other cases reviewed below. Neither of those have any option but the hand carry -- tough when you are traveling or loaded down with a lot of stuff. (In both cases I added d rings to add a leather strap so I could sling those over my shoulder, but neither was as comfortable as the Kamoa -- which you literally could forget is on your back it is so comfortable).



    To be continued...
    Po`ipu no ka oi!
    KoAloha KTM-100 crown bridge with LR Baggs 5.0 pickup
    Kanile`a ISL-T Premium Tenor with Kanile`a active pickup
    Kamaka HF-3 Tenor with Mi-Si pickup

  2. #2
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    The case itself is extremely compact as well. It measures 29" long, 10.5" at its widest point, and only 4" tall. My Kamaka ukulele fits very snugly into the case, with only 0.5" clearance at the top. I do have an input jack on my ukulele, and the case accommodates that fine. Another nice feature to the body design is the rubber feet (four of them) on the bottom of the case, allowing it to stand upright -- a feature that is a sure plus.



    An additional nice feature is the small hygrometer that comes with the case. While it may not be 100% reliable, it doesn't hurt to have an idea of the temperature and humidity readings. The hygrometer initially was placed on the interior top of the case, but Sam decided that it was likely to scratch the headstock in that position, so it has now been moved to the bottom, under the neck portion of the ukulele. In mine, it had not been glued in yet, allowing me to choose any position I wished, and I opted for that location.

    The padding in this case is not very plush, but it is well padded. Unlike other cases I have owned, this one does not use a faux fur lining. Instead, it has a velvet like interior on all the surfaces, including on the little pillow cushion the neck rests upon.



    Now, it should be noted, this case is not perfect. Unlike the minimal storage in the Kamaka case, and the maximum storage offered in the Ameritage, there is literally NO storage compartment in this case. None. So if you want a case that will allow you to bring along your string winder, extra strings, tuner, etc., this may not be the case for you. It is not a big factor for me as I usually carry a backpack to my lessons, and a carryon bag on trips. But for those times when I do want to get away with just my case, I sewed a small, removable pouch to place inside the case, under the headstock. It fits perfectly and snugly, and allows me to go with just the case. You can see it here, with the hygrometer that is included with purchase.



    The other potential downside on this case is connected to its upside -- the shiny, pretty fiberglass. Like a car, it is bound to get some scratches. Now I understand that normal wear and tear will result in scratches and nicks -- I have had the case about a week and it already has some of both. But since this case was bought primarily so that I could take it traveling, I didn't relish the idea of putting it in the overhead compartment unprotected -- for someone's wheel bag to dent or scratch it. So I decided to make a coverbag just for those times when it is in an overhead compartment. I got a towel of matching color, cut it down to size, sewed it shut vertically and horizontally, then added a leather cord for a drawstring. It isn't perfect, but it gives a bit of padding and protection. Yes, I realize it is crazy to get a case for a case, and that is OCD, and I have already been told once I need medication for that, but after waiting six months for a custom color, and spending nearly $300 bucks on it, I'm not going to just toss it up there to get damaged.



    All in all, this case is extremely lightweight, easy to carry (by a very comfortable handle, or the included shoulder straps), and it is a very snug, protective fit for my ukulele. It is also a fashion statement, in a variety of beautiful colors (red, yellow, navy, silver, black or a custom option). It is not, however, for everyone. If you want lots of storage capacity, a low maintenance case, or you don't want to blow your budget on a case it might not be right for you. The MSRP on these is $258 (mine cost $279 after taxes and since it was custom) but you can get them for as low as $206 on Elderly Instruments. http://secure.elderly.com/accessorie.../KFGC4-RED.htm

    For me, though, it is a great case and the only one I plan to use. I am going to get a red one for my Kanile'a, and if my Pineapple Sunday had fit one of them (tenor or concert), I would have bought a yellow one for it as well. Sam says they are like Corvettes - and they are, flashy, expensive, and not a lick of storage to speak of. But they are also beautiful, unique and well worth every penny I spent.

    Next up, Ameritage...
    Po`ipu no ka oi!
    KoAloha KTM-100 crown bridge with LR Baggs 5.0 pickup
    Kanile`a ISL-T Premium Tenor with Kanile`a active pickup
    Kamaka HF-3 Tenor with Mi-Si pickup

  3. #3
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    Wow that color is beautiful! It definitely looks like it'll keep your Kamaka safe that's for sure! I am assuming that since its lightweight, it doesn't bother you much when you wear it backpack style and it bounces against your back a bit? How much did it cost for a custom color?

  4. #4
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    If the Kamoa is a Corvette, then the Ameritage Silver Series is a Hummer. This is the sturdiest, most protective, heartiest case out there. It has a ton of storage capacity, and it is extremely practical -- with a couple of caveats, it is very heavy, and it is not easy to carry.



    The Ameritage comes only with the padded leather handle, and no strap option to speak of. Because I do a lot of traveling, I had to come up with a solution. So we drilled into the case and added d rings. The screws were then covered on the inside with rubber screw cap protectors, to ensure I would not damage the uke. I then was able to wear the case over my shoulder with a leather strap I purchased. But if you aren't willing to do a little DIY, then be prepared to carry over 9 pounds (the weight of the case with the ukulele inside) by hand.

    Edit: just saw that Ameritage now sells a shoulder strap assembly for $31 - well their way is official, my way cost about $30 less but still, I probably would go with theirs on the thought that it would be sure to hold the 9 pound weight. http://www.ameritagecases.com/detail...Strap_Assembly

    Second edit: For $103 you can get a case cover for your Ameritage, whew, to each their own, but no way would I spring for that. The Ameritage is sturdy enough not to show a lot of wear and tear the way the Kamoa one does, and even then, over $100 seems too rich for my blood for a case for my case. http://www.ameritagecases.com/detail...ele_Case_Cover

    It is a large case, to be sure. The length is 31", the width at its widest point is 12", and its height is 5". This makes this case more than twice as heavy and almost five inches larger than the Kamoa case. It will go onto airlines in the overhead compartment, but to be honest, on each trip, unless I'm flying Hawaiian Airlines, I have been nervous about its measurements.

    The Kamaka fits well within this case. There is about 1" of room at the top of the headstock, and the bottom of the case completely allows for an input jack or strap button. The case has three latches, all heavy duty easy to latch (easier than the Kamoa to ensure closure).



    The large storage compartment (5.5" long by 5.5" wide, by 3" deep) not only supports the neck of the ukulele, but also allows for a TON of stuff to fit inside. I have fit tuners, humidifiers, strings, winders, cords, straps, you name it in that compartment. This is one of the biggest pluses for this case to me, as it allows you to bring anything you might need all in that compartment.



    The lining is very soft and plush, and provides very good protection for the ukulele as it snuggles it inside your case. One thing to point out, when you go to close one of these cases, I recall being initially concerned as it looks as though it isn't going to close properly. Just gently push on the top of the lid and the padding will give, allowing your ukulele case to close without damaging the uke.

    The exterior is a canvas like feel, over solid wood -- while it is protective, it certainly isn't flashy or sexy like the Kamoa case. It is, however, classy looking in the Silver Series with the charcoal canvas and silver latches and black handle. I'm less fond of the Gold Series tan exterior with the burgundy handle and gold latches, but that is just a matter of personal preference. It should be noted, you can order these custom as well -- in whatever colors you prefer, but it isn't cheap.

    The Silver Series retails at an MSRP of $251, but you can get them a bit cheaper than that if you look around. So essentially, it costs the same as the Kamoa. I have both but for my purposes (taking it to class, flying with it), I much prefer the Kamoa for the same price. I know without a doubt, there will be many who feel the exact opposite.

    If, however, I ever have to mail my uke anywhere this is the only case I would consider using for shipping. If you want extreme protection, and lots of storage, go for the Ameritage. It should be noted that the Jake Shimabukuro Kamaka special edition ukes come in Ameritage cases, and that Ko'olau has used them as well. Whether it is better or worse than the Kamoa just comes down to whether you would prefer your uke drive a Corvette or a Hummer.

    Next up, Kamaka case and conclusions...
    Last edited by wickedwahine11; 07-07-2011 at 04:21 PM.
    Po`ipu no ka oi!
    KoAloha KTM-100 crown bridge with LR Baggs 5.0 pickup
    Kanile`a ISL-T Premium Tenor with Kanile`a active pickup
    Kamaka HF-3 Tenor with Mi-Si pickup

  5. #5
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    Last, and actually least, is the "Kamaka" hard case that often comes with Kamaka ukuleles. It is almost as light as the Kamoa and almost as functional as the Ameritage but not as good as either. The exterior is covered with a pleather like black substance that I found peels and scratches easily. So unless you want your case to be covered in stickers, it is going to look worse for the wear.



    It has three latches, which function fine, but lack the style of the Kamoa ones or the heartiness of the Ameritage ones. The handle is plastic, and not nearly as comfortable to hold as the ones found on the other cases. It is the middle size of the three, with a length of 31", a width at the widest point of 11", and a height of 5". With the uke inside, it weights 4.5 pounds, and it also lacks a strap option. As I did on the Ameritage, I drilled the d rings with the strap attached so I could carry it on trips.

    It does have a compartment, albeit a skinny one. The compartment is as long as the Ameritage one, at 5" long, but it is only 2" high and 2" across. You can fit a tuner and string winder in there, or a humidifier, but that is about it. When I used this case, I used a pouch similar to that I made for the Kamoa, so I could carry extra strings and accessories.



    My Kamaka ukulele fit well within the case and its plush, faux fur lining (as I suppose it should since it is the "Kamaka" case). It did, however, have the most excess room at the headstock of the three options (2"), but the velcro strap across the fretboard was a nice way to secure the uke into its case. (Oops not in use in this photo).



    These cases can be had for about $75 but to be honest, I would skip them. I have never owned a Kala case, but lots of people swear by those cases and they just seem to hold up better than these Kamaka ones do. I had one metal staple in this case that kept cutting into me, and the pleather was peeling in a lot of spots. I ended up getting rid of mine when I bought the Kamoa case. I told them to donate it to the next person who couldn't afford a case for their new ukulele -- someone ended up buying it from them for $30 used, which isn't a bad price but it isn't worth much more than that.

    In conclusion, I think it is a toss up between the Ameritage and the Kamoa and it all depends on what you want. If you want a sturdy, hearty case with lots of storage, you can't go wrong with an Ameritage -- and if I ever had to ship my ukulele I would do so only in that case. If, on the other hand, you want a lightweight, good looking, fashionable case, I love the Kamoa. That is going to be my go-to case to use on a daily basis, and also when traveling. For me, it is the best option due to its light weight, comfortable handle and backpack option -- it is like carrying a gig bag but with a lot more protection and style. As I mentioned above, I hope to get a red one for my Kanilea (or whenever my Kamaka feels like wearing red).

    I hope this helps people that might be in the market for a high end case -- unless you can get a Calton, I think you can't go wrong with the Kamoa or the Ameritage, it just depends on whether you like a sexy, flashy option (Kamoa) or whether you prefer sturdiness and protection (Ameritage) as to which is the case for you.
    Po`ipu no ka oi!
    KoAloha KTM-100 crown bridge with LR Baggs 5.0 pickup
    Kanile`a ISL-T Premium Tenor with Kanile`a active pickup
    Kamaka HF-3 Tenor with Mi-Si pickup

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukestah View Post
    Wow that color is beautiful! It definitely looks like it'll keep your Kamaka safe that's for sure! I am assuming that since its lightweight, it doesn't bother you much when you wear it backpack style and it bounces against your back a bit? How much did it cost for a custom color?
    Thanks, I really like the color, I'm sorry it didn't come up right in the photos. Its true color is actually is the color of the sarong behind my ukes in my avatar in the right light.

    It actually doesn't bounce on my back at all. The backpack straps can be tightened and I had it pretty tight...plus it is not as long as the Kamaka and Ameritage ones, both of which used to bounce against my back when I wore it, so it is much more comfortable to wear than either of those were. By a mile - for me anyway.

    He originally told me it would be about $30 extra for the custom color, but I ended up just paying about twenty more than MSRP. That being said, in reality, it costs a lot more. Because if I had ordered it at Elderly, I could have gotten a red one for $206 and I paid $279 -- so while technically it is not much more than MSRP, in reality, it cost me about $70 more to get the teal color. I'm glad I did though, it is unique this way. I know they also made a purple one for someone, I bet that was really pretty and unique as well, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see it.

    All in all, you do have to wait a long time for a custom color and there is the danger it won't come right. They matched mine to a piece of teal string (all I could find on Kauai in short notice to give them in person that was perfect). It is probably a 90% or 95% match to what I asked for. But if you have a color you really like (green, orange, purple) it might be worth it to you. But if you just sort of want a particular color, I would just get one of the standard ones. The red is really pretty and I would have been happy with it, without all the waiting and extra money if I didn't absolutely love teal.

    Trust me, I once bought a car because it was Tiffany blue. I hate powder blue (my years at USC there) but I absolutely love teal -- what I wouldn't give for Ukulele Underground to come back with the teal shirts again. I'd order four or five of them just as backups. I get teal everything, toothbrushes, sarongs, Ugg boots, notebooks, you name it. So for me, it was worth the wait and money.
    Last edited by wickedwahine11; 07-07-2011 at 03:47 PM.
    Po`ipu no ka oi!
    KoAloha KTM-100 crown bridge with LR Baggs 5.0 pickup
    Kanile`a ISL-T Premium Tenor with Kanile`a active pickup
    Kamaka HF-3 Tenor with Mi-Si pickup

  7. #7
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    The color looks to be a pretty darn good match of the sarong for sure. I should look into getting a Kamoa case, but I just have to get over the lack of storage space first.

    As far as the shoulder strap for Ameritage cases, I'm wondering how well the assembly they are selling on their site actually works since the case weighs so much. If they have a way of making custom colors for these straps and they work well, I would lean towards Ameritage.

    http://www.ameritagecases.com/detail...Strap_Assembly

    Thank you for your thorough review of the cases!

  8. #8
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    Ameritage also sells a whole case cover with straps. I think the JS model from Kamaka also came with the protective case.

    http://www.ameritagecases.com/detail...ele_Case_Cover
    Aloha,
    Ronnie



  9. #9
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    That teal is gorgeous. And nice to hear that you liked the red too - I've been clicking over to this page every other day or so, then talking myself out of ordering it for my pineapple. One of these days I'm sure I'll lose all restraint and click that "Buy" button...
    Kamaka ukuleles, Martin strings. Just keeping things simple.

  10. #10
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    This was very helpful, thanks for the great review!

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